Richard Weber- Kite Skiing to the South Pole

On Nov 16, 2011 a team of six adventurers flew to the continent of Antarctica. The team led by Richard Weber (Canada), and included Chris De Lapuente (Britain); Kathy Braegger and Ruth Storm (USA); Michael Archer (New Zealand). On November 22, the team started skiing from the Ronne Ice Shelf at a location called the “Messner Start”, 900 km from the South Pole. The team pulled all their supplies in sleds. Kathy Braegger had really bad luck when she developed an internal infection on the second day and had to be evacuated.  The team took the most direct route that crossed two crevasse areas. Both these regions were crossed without any incident. On day 23, Chris fell and injured his leg. He struggled on, limping badly for five more days. It became clear that not only the injury was getting worse but it was becoming extremely serious. He was evacuated after skiing about 600 km. One month later, he is still walking with crutches. After 38 days, Richard, Michael and Ruth reached the Pole. Ruth returned from the Pole by aircraft.

At the Pole, there was a re-supply of equipment. Richard and Michael spent two days re-arranging their equipment. After a frustrating period waiting four days for wind, Michael and Richard started their kite-skiing journey 1130 km back to the edge of the continent. The South Pole is at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet. Cold air flows from the Pole down toward sea level. But in the area of the Pole with are unpredictable. Richard and Michael spent ten days kiting and another three days waiting for wind. Most kiting days they covered about one degree of latitude. Their best day was 240km. They reached Hercules Inlet on the 57th day, January 17, 2012.

Travelling across Antarctica is in many ways boring; endless white, no wildlife, the Messner Route has almost no mountain scenery. Yet, Antarctica is so vast, huge, pristine (except for the US base at the South Pole), and snow surfaces are always changing. From the start to the South Pole the climb is almost 10,000 feet but it is mind boggling to think that all that climb is on top of ice. The South Pole is located on 10,000 feet of ice. It is an amazing journey. It is a long way, yet we touched just a small section of the continent.

The kite-skiiing was often frustrating because of a lack of wind and the fact we did not have all the correct equipment. At the same time, when the wind was good, flying across the surface of Antarctica was an amazing exhilarating experience. We are a couple of men aged 50 plus, with limited kite-skiing experience yet we covered over 1100 km in ten days of kiting. This year other kiting expeditions completed amazing treks, thousand of kilometres in short periods to time. No questions kite-skiing will become more and more popular in Antarctic and other parts of the world were conditions are right. I feel that I am incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to traverse this unique landscape at the bottom of the world

Richard Weber is a world leader in polar expeditions. He has trekked to the North Pole more times than anyone in history. In 1995, he completed the only expedition to reach the North Pole and return with no outside assistance. He holds the records for the fastest North and South Pole expeditions in the Guinness Book of Records.

Read more about Richard’s adventure and the 7 items that were most critical to his Polar Expedition including 7SYSTEMS>>>

 


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